18th August, 2018-IAS Current Affairs
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‘Pakistan election’ (Facts that can be asked in Prelims)
Issue: Imran Khan was voted as Pakistan’s Prime Minister on Friday in a one-sided election in the National Assembly.
The election became a formality after the Pakistan Peoples Party, led by Bilawal Bhutto Zardari with 54 seats, abstained from voting following a rift over Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz chief Shahbaz Sharif’s candidature.
‘Goods and Service tax’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: Analysis of data after the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime was implemented in July last year in the State of Karnataka has led to the detection of nearly ₹400 crore of unpaid taxes. Among the defaulters are “top tax payers”.
About this discovery
This tax liability came to light in March and April this year after data was analysed using a new software — GSTPro system — developed in-house by the National Informatics Centre, Karnataka, in collaboration with the Commercial Tax Department, as large sets of post-GST data was available with the department.
Significance of this new software
The implementation of new software has not only eased assessment of defaulters, but also enables matching of data retrieved from multiple sources, which was not possible earlier. For example, by matching monthly returns and e-way bills, tax officials found that some dealers who had raised e-way bills had not filed their monthly returns
‘Kofi Annan’ (Facts that can be asked in Prelims)
Issue: Former Secretary-General of the United Nations Kofi Annan died on Saturday.
About Kofi Annan
- The Nobel Peace Prize winner served as the U.N. special envoy to Syria, and was the first black African to be appointed as Secretary-General. He served two terms in the post from 1996-2006.
- In 2016, Mr. Annan was named by the Myanmar government to head a panel to find “lasting solutions” to the conflict in Rakhine state, where human rights groups have documented widespread abuses against the minority Rohingya Muslims.
- Under his leadership, the UN introduced the Millennium Development Goals in 2000, in which countries of the world committed to ending poverty within 15 years. Under his leadership two intergovernmental bodies, the Peacebuilding Commission and the Human Rights Council, were established. In 2001, Kofi Annan was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace along with the United Nations.
- Annan played a central role in the creation of the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. He launched the Global Compact initiative, the world’s largest effort to promote corporate social responsibility, in 1999.
‘Asian Games 2018’ (Facts that could be asked in Prelims)
Issue: A colorful display of their cultural heritage and a message for world peace — Indonesia mixed it up all for a vibrant and slick opening ceremony for the 18th Asian Games in Jakarta on Saturday.
Young Javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra, the flag bearer, led the Indian contingent
The ceremony opened with the traditional ‘Saman’ dance, which has been listed by UNESCO in its Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The dance has its origins in the Gayo ethnic community of the Aceh province.
History of Asian Games
The Asian Games, also known as Asiad, is a continental multi-sport event held every four years among athletes from all over Asia. The Games were regulated by the Asian Games Federation (AGF) from the first Games in New Delhi, India, until the 1978 Games. Since the 1982 Games they have been organized by the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), after the breakup of the Asian Games Federation. The Games are recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and are described as the second largest multi-sport event after the Olympic Games.
In its history, nine nations have hosted the Asian Games. Forty-six nations have participated in the Games, including Israel, which was excluded from the Games after their last participation in 1974.
The most recent games were held in Incheon, South Korea from 19 September to 4 October 2014, while the next games will be held in Jakarta and Palembang, Indonesia from 18 August to 2 September 2018.
The Asian Games mascots are fictional characters, usually an animal native to the area or human figures, who represent the cultural heritage of the place where the Asian Games are taking place.
The trio of animal mascots are said to reflect Indonesia’s diversity, with the east of the country being represented by bird of paradise “Bhin Bhin”, the west by one-horned rhinoceros “Ika” and the central area by Bawean deer “Atung”.
The three characters replaced Derawan, a bird of paradise dressed in uniform used in Indonesian martial art pencak silat
‘Micro, Small and Medium enterprises sector (MSME)’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: The flow of bank credit to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) that took a hit in the aftermath of demonetization seems to have picked up again, a study by officials at the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) showed.
Growth of bank credit to the MSME sector, which had started decelerating even before demonetization and fell significantly and turned negative in the wake of the note ban, has rebounded
Significance of this data
The MSME sector comprises more than 63 million units and employs about 111 million people. The share of MSMEs in GDP is about 30%, with the sector accounting for about 45% of manufacturing output and about 40% of India’s total exports.
‘Hajj pilgrimage’ (Facts that could be asked in Prelims)
Issue: Around 1.6 million from around the world are beginning the five day hajj pilgrimage on Sunday
About the pilgrimage
The Hajj is an annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, the holiest city for Muslims, and a mandatory religious duty for Muslims that must be carried out at least once in their lifetime by all adult Muslims who are physically and financially capable of undertaking the journey, and can support their family during their absence
In Islamic terminology, Hajj is a pilgrimage made to Kaaba, the ‘House of God’, in the sacred city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia. The rites of Hajj, which go back to the time of Prophet Abraham who built Kaaba after it had been first built by Prophet Adam, are performed over five or six days, beginning on the eighth and ending on the thirteenth day of Dhu al-Hijjah, the last month of the Islamic calendar
The Hajj is the second largest annual gathering of Muslims in the world.
‘Foreign exchange reserve’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: The country’s forex reserves have declined by $25.147 billion between 13 April and 10 August, with the rupee on a downward spiral since the beginning of the year forcing the Reserve Bank to sell dollars to defend the local currency.
Analysis of fall in forex reserves
Though officially the RBI does not maintain the rupee at a determined level, the massive fall in the reserves clearly shows that the central bank has been selling the greenback to prop up the domestic currency.
The country’s reserve position with the IMF also declined by $9.2 million to $2.458 billion
‘Caspian sea agreement’ (GS2: International Agreements)
Issue: The leaders of five countries — Russia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan — signed a landmark agreement on sharing the Caspian, raising the prospect of an end to 27 years of diplomatic wrangling.
What does the agreement entail?
The convention signed at the recent summit did indeed confirm that the surface of the Caspian Sea would be legally classified as a sea, meaning each country would control 15 nautical miles of water from its shoreline for mineral exploration and 25 natural miles of shoreline for fishing. All other parts of the Caspian Sea would be considered neutral waters for common use. The summit also produced important security decisions, including an agreement that military vessels from non-Caspian states would be prohibited from entering the sea. This is a boon for both Russia and Iran, who have long had concerns about a U.S. or NATO military presence increasing Western influence, particularly over Azerbaijan.
The legal convention signed at the Caspian Sea summit in Aktau is far from the final word on the division of the strategic sea and its abundant energy resources
About Caspian Sea
The Caspian Sea is the largest enclosed inland body of water on Earth by area, variously classed as the world’s largest lake or a full-fledged sea
It is in an endorheic basin (it has no outflows) located between Europe and Asia.
It is bordered on the northeast by Kazakhstan, on the southeast by Turkmenistan, on the south by Iran, on the southwest by Azerbaijan, and on the northwest by Russia.
Caspian Sea forms 40 to 44% of the total lake waters of the world.
The Caspian receives the Volga (which supplies about 80% of its inflow), Ural, Emba, Kura, and Terek rivers, but has no outlet; There are about 130 rivers which drain water into the Caspian Sea.
The Caspian Sea, like the Aral Sea, Black Sea, and Lake Urmia, is a remnant of the ancient Paratethys Sea. It became landlocked about 5.5 million years ago due to tectonic uplift and a fall in sea level.
Approximately 850 animal species and more than 500 plant species are represented in the Caspian. This number of species is relatively low for a body of water of this size. Many species are unique to the Caspian.
There are 115 species of fish found in the lake.
The Caspian Sea region is one of the oldest oil-producing areas in the world and is an increasingly important source of global energy production. The area has significant oil and natural gas reserves from both offshore deposits in the Caspian Sea itself and onshore fields in the region.